16 Proven Techniques for Better Sales Lead Generation with Print Advertising
Creating print ads may seem like a simple branding activity or creative process, but leaving out vital message, image and offer strategies means you are shutting out qualified prospects. Expert in B2B lead generation, Mac McIntosh gives real, must-know advice in making print advertising work hard for your business.
- If you want more leads, don’t use image ads
Have you seen the ads showing butterflies and oil wells co-existing, illustrating the oil company’s concern for the environment? This kind of advertising may do a lot to improve the company’s image, but it isn’t designed to generate sales leads.
If leads are what you want, focus your advertising’s message on the benefits and applications of your products or services. Then let the layout and design of your ads enhance your company’s image.
- List benefits in your headlines
If you list a benefit in the headline, you’ll have a better chance of catching the reader’s attention and generating a request for more information. If after reading the headline a reader can ask “So what?” you probably described a feature instead of a benefit. The answer to “So what?” is probably the benefit.
- Talk about specific applications
If your product or service is ideal for specific applications, say so. When readers recognize their application for your product or service, they will be more likely to respond. For example, you’re more likely to get an inquiry from someone in a medical-records department of a hospital if they notice that your bar-coding software is ideal for tracking patient’s medical records.
- Make your ads easy to skim
Everyone seems pressed for time these days, including the folks reading the publications you advertise in. With this in mind, make it easy for readers to “skim” your ads and still get the message. In other words, use bulleted copy, subheads and illustrations or photos to quickly communicate key points.
- Testimonial ads are king
I’ve seen testimonial ads boost the number of sales leads my clients’ ads generate by up to 700 percent. Your prospects expect you to be biased. However, they trust their peers to tell it like it is. Use this to your advantage by including quotes from happy customers in your advertising. Or mention the companies you serve. Or use statistics like “chosen by 9 out of 10 CFOs.”However, to be believable you have to be specific. For example, give the full name, title and company affiliation of the person being quoted. Or list the names of a few respected companies that use your products or services. If you use statistics, be sure to back them up by referencing the source of the data.
- Fractional ads in every issue can be more cost-efficient
If you want more leads, your advertising needs to be present when your prospects are looking for solutions to their problems. So if your budget is limited, rather than placing only a few full-page ads a year, consider running smaller ads in every issue. Having ads in every issue also makes your company look larger and more successful.
- Use “wrap ads” to get more bang for the buck
“Wrap ads” are actually a number of fractional ads, designed to look like new product announcements, all run on a single page surrounding an “island” half-page ad. This format can also work for half-page and one-third-page ads. Although more common in tabloid-sized magazines, this type of ad works equally well in standard-sized publications.My clients have found that wrap ads can pull up to 400% more inquiries than a single ad of the same size.
- Make them an offer they can’t refuse
If you want your prospects to respond, you have to give them a convincing reason to do so. Keep the phrase “What’s in it for me?” in mind as you’re writing your ad’s call to action. It’s what your prospects are thinking as they decide whether they will take the time and effort to respond.Consider offering application notes showing how other buyers solved their problems using your product or service.
Offering a useful premium or advertising specialty can also significantly increase the number of responses. However, try to make sure your offer is of interest only to qualified prospects. For example, a tool for sizing tubing would be an attractive offer only to people who deal with tubing. However, everyone might want a free pocket screwdriver set and inquire only to get it, not because they have a need for your product or service.
Many of your prospects may want to try your product before they buy it. If you can cost-effectively offer samples or a demo version, you will generate more inquiries.
- Choose your words carefully
The word “free” is a powerful inquiry generator. Everyone wants something for nothing. Direct marketers have long known the power of this word. Take a look at just about any direct response ad and you’ll see it used.”New” is another word that is sure to attract attention and generate more inquiries. Of course, you can only legally use “new” if it is new, and only for a limited time (usually 6 months). Check with your legal advisor.
- Talk first person with the reader
Use words in your copy like “you” and “your” to focus on the readers’ needs rather than boasting about how good “we” and “our” products or services are. For example, the statement “You will get the work done 25 percent quicker” is much stronger than “Our product is 25 percent faster than the competition.”
- Ask for the order
Any experienced salesperson can tell you, you won’t get the order unless you ask for it.Create benefit-oriented offers such as “call, e-mail or visit our website today to request your free Component Selection Guide, designed to help you quickly determine which products best meet your bar-coding needs.” Notice that even the words “Selection Guide,” as opposed to “brochure” or “catalog,” were chosen to offer the reader a benefit.
- Give them a compelling reason to inquire right away
You’ll get more inquiries if you design your offer to reward those who inquire right away. For example, try something like “If you are one of the first 500 to inquire, we’ll also send you a free booklet entitled, ‘Fifteen Ways to Cut Your Inventory Costs.’ Or “Request more information before Dec. 31, and we’ll include a coupon good for $500 worth of free accessories.”
- Match your offers to where the reader is in the buying cycle
When prospects are just starting to gather information, they may need literature but are often not yet ready for a sales call. When it is almost time to buy, prospects are usually anxious to speak with your salespeople, reps, resellers or distributors, see a demonstration or discuss pricing.You can significantly increase the number of inquiries you generate by making offers that appeal to prospects in all phases of the sales cycle. For example, consider offering selection guides, application notes, a newsletter, a webinar, a demonstration, a test or analysis, samples, a sales call or any combination thereof.
- Merchandise your offers
Direct marketers have found that how you package an offer can be as important as the offer itself.For example, if you’re offering literature or samples, include in the ad a small picture of what they’ll receive if they inquire.
If you use a coupon, show a little pair of scissors cutting out the coupon. Art directors tend to hate coupons, but they work. One study I recall showed that the same ads with a coupon out-performed versions without the coupon by as much as 13 percent.
If you use phone numbers in your ads, make sure the numbers are big and bold. That way they stand out, and it’s clear that you want the prospect to call.
Don’t forget to mention all the ways they can inquire, for instance, “Call, email or visit our website today for your free information kit.”
- Make it easy for your prospect to respond
Offer multiple response devices, so your prospects can choose the method they prefer.For example, some people need your information right away, so they prefer to call or go right to your website on the Internet. Some like the 24-hour convenience of emailing their requests. Some prefer to talk to someone by phone. Others find it easier or more comfortable to use the coupons or reply cards.
If you publish phone numbers in your ads, please be prepared to answer the phone during coast-to coast business hours.
- Mention your website
Make it clear to readers that they can instantly get the rest of the story about your products or services by visiting your website. Then make sure your website so it’s easy for them to find this information. Or better yet, give them the exact address (URL) of the page they need.Consider using a unique web address for each ad you run so you’ll know where the inquiry came from. Ask your webmaster about this. It is easy and inexpensive to accomplish.
In addition, have an “Information Request” button on every page that takes viewers to a form that allows them to identify themselves and their needs, and to request that detailed information be downloaded or if appropriate, quickly mailed to them.
President of B2B demand generation agency AquireB2B, and principal consultant of B2B sales lead management consulting firm, Mac McIntosh Inc., Mac specializes in helping companies generate more high-quality B2B sales leads, nurture, qualify and convert them into sales, track and measure results, and prove a favorable return on investment.
By Mac McIntosh
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